The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Funeral arrangements have been announced for the Jefferson High School football player killed in a shooting at Sugarloaf Mills mall as his family and community continue to mourn the loss of a life taken too soon.
Elijah DeWitt, an 18-year-old wide receiver, was found shot to death in the parking lot of Sugarloaf Mills near Dave & Buster’s on Wednesday.
Funeral services for DeWitt will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the arena at Jefferson High School. The family will receive friends at 6 p.m. the day before at the Jefferson Church in Jefferson.
Two suspects — Chandler Zion Richardson, 19, and Kemare Matthew Bryan, 18 — have since been arrested, nearly 100 miles away in South Carolina. They are expected to be brought back to Gwinnett on Monday to face charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, police have said.
While detectives continue to investigate the motive behind the shooting, they said it appears the suspects were at least familiar with DeWitt when they ran into each other in the parking lot. But the teen’s mother, Dawn DeWitt, told Channel 2 Action News she did not believe her son was friends with those who took his life.
“He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time,” she told the station. “I talked to the detective today, and he was not friends with them.”
Dawn DeWitt said her son had been enjoying his fall break the day he was killed, spending time with family and friends. That night, he’d gone to play games at Dave & Buster’s after attending football practice and playing golf just hours earlier.
“I felt like it was so great. He got to spend time with all of us,” she told Channel 2. “I miss him so much. If I could just have one more day.”
The teen’s death has left the Jackson County community “heartbroken,” Jefferson City Schools superintendent Donna R. McMullan said Thursday, extending her condolences to the DeWitt family.
A GoFundMe has since been set up to support the DeWitt family.
“We are working toward an idea to honor Elijah and keep his memory alive and acknowledge that there are many needs in the coming months for friends and family of the DeWitts that you could directly impact,” the organizers wrote.
In a public Facebook post, the rising star football player’s aunt Lauren DeWitt shared the fundraiser and thanked the community for its outpouring of love and support.
“Even though we can’t respond to everyone just yet, we feel the love and it’s helping,” she wrote. “It hits harder each day as we miss him more and more.”
DeWitt, a senior, compiled nearly 600 receiving yards and five touchdowns in six games this season, according to the Athens Banner-Herald. He played his junior season at Prince Avenue Christian in Athens before transferring to Jefferson.
“He was a fire; we will not let his light burn out,” Lauren DeWitt wrote publicly on Facebook.